Those who bemoan the creeping of the holiday season into mid-November are not only fighting a losing battle - they're missing the point. An extended holiday season is good for just about everyone.
It's good for the merchants who depend on a robust sales season to meet financial goals and keep their doors open. It's good for restaurants and food servers who count on Christmas parties to bolster their budget.
The sooner the lights are up and the presents are bought the more time Christians who observe the holiday can spend together in worship and in the merriment of the season. The best remedy to avoid holiday stress is to complete your holiday preparations early.
So this week when we spot the familiar red kettles and hear the steady "jingle, jingle, jingle" of a Salvation Army bell ringer don't be a grouch - throw a contribution into the kettle. Salvation Army bell ringing is a sound of the season and of course it's just one of the many charitable activities conducted this time of year by businesses, churches and individual families. Many people and businesses adopt a family for Christmas and buy presents for those who are suffering through tough financial times.
December is far and away the most successful month for charitable giving. A curious combination, no doubt, of the Christmas spirit and the last chance to make tax-deductible contributions. There are countless charitable organizations were donors can make a difference.
The high visibility of so many Christmas fund-raising campaigns also gives parents the opportunity to model charitable behavior. When young people see their parents stick a $20 bill in a Salvation Army kettle or write a check to the Marine Corps League's Toys for Kids, it makes an impression on them.
Let the Salvation Army bells be a reminder for you to give to the charity of your choice this holiday season and when someone tells you Christmas is about a month away, don't groan - thank them for the reminder.
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